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Since July, commercial surrogacy in Nepal has undergone immense changes. The most recent news from the top court in Nepal has mandated a stop to all surrogacy practices. Throngs of individuals and couples have relied on Nepal to help build their families so this declaration has many concerned.
And this is completely understandable.
It’s important to remember this is an interim order issued by the Supreme Court of Nepal. By its very nature, the order is temporary; however, it was instituted as the country waits on the ruling on the petition to ban surrogacy.
When the story broke out on the Associated Foreign Press (AFP) and Yahoo News learned of it, the preliminary information reinforced how Nepal has been a leading destination for foreigners particularly because of the lower expenses in hiring a surrogate.
Yahoo reports, “The practice is controversial, with critics saying it exploits the poverty of women.”
According to news sources, although Nepal has no laws on its books regulating surrogacy, the government last year allowed foreign women to serve as surrogates in Nepal but forbid their “locals” to take part in it.
While surrogacy in Nepal is in a state of flux, certainly individuals and couples who have pregnant surrogates and those who have already financially invested to find a surrogate are worried about what the future holds.
Here is some information which may be of help.
First off, the injunction does not affect those who already have surrogate pregnancies. However, in the same breath, if one has made initial payments during the early stages of finding a surrogate, it is recommended to request a refund until surrogacy in Nepal is settled.
Some have decided to reinvest those monies to a county where surrogacy is legal and the framework for parental rights is in place, such as the State of California. While costs may be somewhat higher in the west, intended parents can have peace of mind.
Others are waiting patiently to see which way Nepal will rule with commercial surrogacy.
The individual who filed the original petition was Prabin Pandak. Her hope was that this lawsuit would halt new surrogate commercial contracts. And it has.
“Women should not be a subject of trade, neither should a child,” Pandak said. She added, “Nepali women are not allowed to be surrogate mothers, but they are misrepresented as Indian and used for surrogacy.”
Advocates of surrogacy are wondering if Nepal’s actions are somehow a domino effect of the new laws in Thailand. Like Nepal, Thailand was a highly sought destination for surrogacy for both heterosexual and gay couples.
However, following the unfortunate Baby Gammy incident last year, public opinion became the impetus for Thailand to crack down on commercial surrogacy practices. Limitations have evolved, and to date, lawmakers are only allowing local heterosexual couples the right to non-commercial surrogacy. This means that a surrogate can no longer be part of a financial arrangement. If a woman is caught receiving monies she could be imprisoned for up to a decade.
Naturally, Thailand’s decision has many wondering which way Nepal will lean.
A spokesperson for the Supreme Court of Nepal, Nahakul Subed, told AFP, “There are no laws regarding surrogacy… it raises many constitutional and legal questions.”
While a number of people seeking to build their families through surrogacy are incredibly disappointed, the issues raised in this petition were relevant. So, it may be that surrogacy will be allowed to continue in Nepal, but I would advise people not move forward in that country until the laws surrounding surrogacy are established.